Industrial deafness is any condition of deafness caused by exposure, continued exposure or periods of continued exposure to industrial noise.
Any diminution of hearing must be assessed as binaural loss of hearing. Binaural loss of hearing describes any loss of hearing in binaural and monaural loss of hearing.
Diminution of hearing is deemed to have occurred at a constant rate within the total number of years exposed to industrial deafness.
A diminution of hearing loss, that has occurred where there is no liability to pay compensation under the Act, must be excluded from assessment of deafness when calculating compensation.
Deemed date of injury
For diminution of hearing loss claims, the date of injury is deemed to be:
- the last day on which the worker was performing duties or exposed to conditions by reason of which the injury was due to the nature of or arose out of the worker’s employment or
- the date of the claim if the worker is still performing duties or exposed to conditions by reason of which the injury is due to the nature of or arose out of the worker’s employment.
When deemed date of injury is date of claim
When the deemed date of injury is the date of claim, that is, the worker is currently employed in that employment, the compensation entitlement is calculated as at the date of the impairment report or supplementary report, rather than the date of the claim.
If the date of injury is deemed to be the last day of the worker’s employment, then the compensation entitlement is calculated as at that day.
When date of calculation is deemed to be in a different financial year
When the date of calculation is deemed to be in a different financial year from the date of the claim, the entitlement will be calculated incorrectly in ACCtion. The IB Impairment Benefits Specialist must calculate an incomplete Notice of Entitlement and contact the Impairment Benefit Team. In these instances WorkSafe will adjust the payment of compensation based upon the date of the impairment report.
Establishing last employer
Damaging noise is generally considered to be at or above 85 decibels (dba). In the case of Blaney Shire Council v Lobley and Anor, it was found that a worker need not show that employment in fact caused the hearing loss. However, if the ‘tendencies, incidents or characteristics’ of that employment were of the type to cause the injury, then the injury is said to arise from that employment. Therefore to establish the last employer depends on what is the last possible day that damage could have occurred, as opposed to the last probable day.
The Agent is advised to use medical assessments in deciding liability only if an employer has pre-employment audiograms to confirm the extent of loss before commencing employment.
In all other circumstances, if a worker is exposed to damaging noise in the course of their job – and medical evidence supports that the worker has sustained some hearing loss - liability for the injury should be accepted.